ELECTION NIGHT, 2086: PAUL RYAN’S MORAL FAILURE IN SUPPORTING TRUMP HAUNTS GREAT-GRANDDAUGHTER
Janesville, WI., November 11, 2086 – For Hillary Ryan-Abidi, descendant of one of the most infamous political names in Wisconsin history, the post mortems after her defeat this week in the state’s 1st Congressional District weren’t complicated. Heavy family baggage.
After all, her great-grandfather was Paul Ryan, who 70 years ago was the Speaker of the House and leader of a long-defunct political party known as the Republicans, a man regarded as presidential material before his ill-fated decision to endorse Donald Trump, who became President in 2017 and quickly brought the nation to the edge of collapse.
Under Trump, a billionaire businessman who was more pit bull than politician, the country endured a military and fiscal crisis that nearly ended the U.S.’s then 238-year old republic.
After initially denouncing Trump during the 2016 campaign as a man “not what this country stands for,” Paul Ryan, then the third highest elected official in the United States, succumbed to political pressure to support a candidate history regards as the most unqualified person ever to hold the presidency. That reversal fanned the flames of a political crisis which ultimately resulted in the breakup of the Republican party and began over 70 years of progressive Democratic governance.
It also brought decades of shame to the Ryan family.
“There were times growing up when I felt embarrassed, even humiliated, about the Ryan name,” Ryan-Abidi said. “And I still am.”
“When we came to the screen on my schoolpad about Paul Ryan, I would cringe,” added Ms. Ryan-Abidi’s brother who legally changed his name from Paul Ryan III on his 18th birthday, and requested anonymity to speak to reporters.
“I think my great-grandfather might once have been a decent man,” added Ryan-Abidi, “but his solipsistic self-regard caused him to lose his moral compass.
“I’ve spent my life apologizing for my great-grandfather, and it’s worn me down. Fortunately we live in a democracy and a country where all are welcome, all faiths are honored and respected. I never met him of course, but if I had I would have asked him one thing: ‘Was your political career worth your soul?'”
Ironically, in his later years, Paul Ryan regretted his support for Trump.
“I think it was my own overweening ambition that led me to support a man who was clearly a bigoted, unbalanced and ultimately despicable human being,” Ryan wrote in an unpublished autobiography.
“I was wrong, terribly wrong.”
Illustrations by Ray Dougela